Friday, February 25, 2011

Back in the sadle

It's a Wednesday morning.  I'm up!   In fact I was up at the crack of dawn and am already out in the world. At this moment I am sitting on a couch in the center of our local mall while my daughter thoroughly peruses the girly trinket store, dreaming of higher fashion.   She's nine and change going on twenty two.  My amusement right now is the looks on the elderly's faces as they go for their morning stroll.   In the cold months this place is like a walking track and social gathering for the over 60 crowd.  Makes me wonder if someday I'll be wandering a shopping complex myself and observing a guy tapping away on his phone and looking like he spent last night getting throttled by a rubber alien Rock Band's intergalactic blood cannon.  And boy do I. Although I scrubbed myself raw after last nights Gwar concert, I am most definitely looking a little like an under cooked  lobster-man.   Step right up people!  Or hobble.   Whatever gets your joints a creekin.
    So much has happened since the last time I added to this project.  I got married twice ( both times to the same girl even!) and have been tattooing my face off!   Not to mention surviving the Christmas and eating seasons.  Getting back into the swing of things with new projects, plans for the treadmill and some up and coming art shows, and hopefully A nearing spring. The Kung Fu is good, family healthy, and, and, back to our show!! Here are a few pics to get you back in the spirit. Hope you are all well. More soon
Love Jim
BELOW: Lizzy's back, in progress

Tribal sleeve that has been slowly building for a couple years. Just finished it up the other day!

                                                             Getting Married...It was very very sweet.
                                         Nick's Pheonix ! Better pics Soon!

                              And last but not least...Tiff's Back piece, also in progress. Low back is a cover up...Giant octopus and poppys!! Thanks everyone. I will see you all again real soon..Right here!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kung Fu, Jasmine, and The Master Bald Bill

As you all know, once again it is Kung Fu Friday!!  Woo hoo! Yesss!  Well, this week, as I believe in the synchronicity of things, the Kung Fu, the client and the master all fit together to make this finely tailored post.  This last week my lovely Bride- to-be suggested that people may want to know a little bit of history on where I came from.    Not in the world, but in the world of  Tattoo.  You see in the tattoo universe you have traditionally a master and apprentice scenario.This is not unlike Kung Fu .  Knowledge is passed down from Sifu (teacher) to Todie (Student) for generations.  Through tracing these lineages, we are able to see from where nuances in the arts stem  . In the world of Tattoo my Teacher, and long time friend has been none other than Bald Bill Henshaw.  I met Bill about fifteen years ago and that is where my journey began.  I was on what I like to call my last great vacation.  I signed up for a semester of community college in Burlington following my four years at Johnson state where I was seeking a degree in studio Art.   A degree I never finished in light of my chosen path.   Road traveled, passport not stamped.  But oh well, I know plenty of people that got those degrees that were not lucky enough to use them for full time work.   Luck and karma has a big part in all of this.  I remember when I was a kid and I had this very, the world will provide attitude about most things.  I was selected in High school to attend a special summer session of art courses taught by professionals in their respective  fields. I couldn't afford to go, but somehow a scholarship came into being and I went!  One of the best experiences of my young life. Me surrounded for the first time by a large group of aspiring bohemian types!  My Mom said it was like I found my people.  I didn't really want to come home after that. (but it reinforced this notion that things would just come to me)  Then I remember once Mom was giving me a lecture in the car as we were going to a McDonalds drive through to get some food for dinner.  The memory is as crystal clear as Marley's ghost (you like that? Slid a little early Christmas reference in there for you )  Anyway, she is trying to tell me that I need to take a more active role in making things happen and how I can't just wait for the universe to provide for me.  All the while I am ordering our food at the drive through speaker.  The next thing you know I hear these giggly girl voices and one of them asks me if I am  I reply what you would expect, that I am indeed me, and by the time we reach the pick up window, the girl smiles at me and hands me three bags brimming with all these extra cheese burgers and says have a great day Jim!  My Mom then Rolled her eyes and the universe made it's point. Hard to argue with the Universe.  Now I am older and i don't believe that my Mom was wrong by any means. It is more like the hybrid of the two concepts. The universe at large is there for you and offering you these paths, and you in turn have to have the clarity of vision to see them, and actively if not aggressively jump on them and forge  your destiny.  This is how I met Bill.  I was on this  last great vacation of mine.  In Community college showing up once a week and taking that semester's financial aid money and spending six months doing nothing but painting from morning to night.  It was glorious!!!!  Every day I would walk to the corner store for a sandwich, and soon I notice this dude building a tattoo shop.  At the Time Bill was in his early forties, not much older than I am now, and also had been tattooing as about as long as I have now tattooed. He was and still is a wild eyed, scurvy story telling ,pirate, with a sense of youth that is untouched by the weather of the world. I remember thinking wow this dude is like a real pirate!!!  Bill Grew up in the worst part of Massachusetts in the projects in the 60s and 70s.  At some point as the legend goes, some of the older kids realized that he was good at art and boom!!  Bald Bill's life journey began!!  Hand poking kids in the projects.  I should like to thank those little scoundrels, for the echo of that action brought me to this point and writing to you today.  So The Bald amigo slowly and over a number of years climbed  his way up the tattoo ladder.  He worked for the phone company after high school as a line man, and then joined the Navy to be a salty dawg (back when you could still grow a big beard and be a gnarly sailor) and was unofficial ship's tattooer.  After getting out he returned to the phone company and found his way into the Art department.  Here he spent a number of years mastering graphic art well before the computer was the tool of the trade.  Bill swings a T-square and triangle like no other!  A true master of the drawing board.  Eventually to the dismay of his colleagues, Bill quit the phone company after six years to become a gypsy Tattooist.  From there on the rest is history. Bald Bill spent years on the road working all of the biker events from Sturgis to Daytona to Easy Rider rodeos and eventually ,like every tattoo convention known to man!  In fact Bald Bill became known to so many people, he was like a traveling rock band. Always on tour and often the last man working at 1 am while security was trying to close the show down.  He worked in New England when it was warm and when the snow flew he hit the trail once more.  Eventually he was brought under the wing of The late great Sailor Moses whom like others in the past mentored him and chained him to a chair and taught him life lessons pertaining to the trade.  By the time I met Bill it was 1996 and I was just 22.  We became fast friends and eventually  the Universe presented once more a strange opportunity in my path, and  I jumped on it aggressively.  I became a tattoo apprentice, making needles and drawing and playing Cinderella cleaning up the shop, doing the sterilization of the tubes  and watching the man work.  I learned to work hard and the years and the stories and adventures with my friend Bill have been enough to write a blog of it's own.  He has taught me much and has been an unwavering friend in some of the hardest times in my life and I am quite thankful for him coming along.  And all I have to say to follow that little story is, It aint over yet old friend!

So now I have touched on  the Kung Fu and the Master Tattooer.  Next is for a little reflection on some past work.  Hey everyone meet Jasmine Liu!  Say hi to the people Jasmine.  Miss Jasmine was our front desk girl for some time.   We share a love of Harry Potter and Kung Fu, and Vampires (even though she does like those weird True Blood Vampires and I think they are silly, but I still love her) . But that is another matter.  Anyway we did a lovely sleeve on Jasmine that showcases a little Chinese boy in his traditional coat with the frog buttons, blowing bubbles across a dreamy landscape of clouds, pear blossoms, and traditional Asian  flowers. I am most happy about how it turned out! Thanks for letting me make you prettier Jasmine. And below and through this post are some pics of Jasmine, Bald Bill, and even one of me doing my Morning Kung Fu by the ocean! Have a great day my friends!
Practice your Kung Fu!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Regarding Gravy and Kitty's Magical Wedding Tattoo!

Hello again good-lookin Readers!
  Today is a bitter cold reminder of why it is that only the most INSANE people with the constitution of deranged polar bears decide to live in Vermont. It is damn cold and it finally snowed yesterday, and for the first time this year, I came home to find the evidence all over my driveway!  I strongly disapprove Mother Nature!  There, complaint registered!  I know it should be no shock to me after all these years, but I still act like it's this new and horrible development every time that first snowflake comes floating down out of the sky. Like wow...I can't believe it happened AGAIN this year!  Call it a winter coping mechanism.  Thanksgiving proved to be most relaxing and everything I hoped it would be. Wednesday I made the trek down to Upstate NY to visit with family and celebrate my Niece's 12th Birthday.  Now I don't know if you have ever attended a 12yr old Wii dance party, but let me tell you, it is something to behold.  Much of it resembled dancing ,but it was much  more like watching some poor unfortunate souls  have epileptic fits and there you are with no way to help them!  At least no one was seriously hurt. I would urge all parents with a depressive disorder to rush right out and buy one of these things for their kids for the holidays, as it can only alleviate some of your Winter blues. Thursday was spent with Quill or Brush in hand, some bad movies, and just trying to relax, paint, and baste! mmmmm. Good day!
   As far as a Gravy overdose however, I am afraid that I have nothing to report. In fact it is safe to say, that I have noticed no ill-effects from over consumption. Long story short, I don't have a problem and I can quit anytime, so there! Get off my back already! In fact after I write this little number it is upstairs for a warm glass of gravy to calm my nerves and ease the shaking hands....
   My Sunday mornings have recently been reserved for tattooing either my friend Jay or his lovely wife Kitty.  When you grow up and pair off with a mate, often times you end up with “couple friends”. So many people think that when you grow up and have some kids, you’re supposed to put an immediate cease and desist on your exciting brand of humanity.  Lucky for us our friends don't usually come complete with Mini-van and board-game filled evenings capable of lulling you into a early death by pointless conversation.  Instead we enjoy horror-themed dinner parties, monster conventions and making art. You know…ultra dorky-cool , cultured Nerd stuff.  These two have strong senses of self.  No doubt, when their children come along, they’ll most likely be falling asleep with their Cthulhu plushies and learning early catch phrases like...”Kill the Zombies Mama!”  Kitty & Jay were married a year ago last Halloween; and a beautiful spooky ceremony was had.  It took place at an eery Inn in the middle of nowhere…there was fire, dancing girls with knives, steak & tequila…all the right stuff included.  My focus today is on Kitty as this was her Sunday to sit in the chair.  We have a sleeve on her right arm depicting her and Jay in a sorta New Orleans voodoo/Day of the Dead Bride and Groom motif surrounded by the flowers from her bridal bouquet!  We're only a couple sessions away from finishing it up and realizing her vision and I’m excited for her!!  Big tattoos take a long time and this makes it hard to update one’s portfolio as often as would be preferred. When you are doing a bunch of large work for people you’re at the mercy of when they can fit getting work done into their busy schedules.  Sometimes I’ll post work that is in progress because, well, you might like to watch it develop, and also I might not always have something new and huge finished every day. So that's all for today Kids.  Hope you all are safe and warm and enjoying the rest of that gravy….oooooh gravy.  See ya soon,

Monday, November 22, 2010

space Pilgrims, Old paintings, and Shaun!

MONDAY! The word brings so much dread to the mass populace. An impending five days of doom all wrapped up in one word. Shudder to think!  Man, that is some heavy business! Fortunately for me, Monday is actually my Friday!  Life is rushing along as usual and there is much to do but things are a bit on the quiet side around the shop as we near the Holiday season. With Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday, People are traveling and the Students have run out of town, no doubt back to Mom and Dad's with six months worth of laundry and craving that home cooked feast smothered in the gravy of dysfunction. Maybe that is what today's entry should be all about. (not the dysfunction)..THINGS I’M THANKFUL FOR ON THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!
Dear Great Spiritual Turkey Beast in the sky,
It's me Jim.  I choose to address you this way as I’m much more fond of a giant ethereal Turkey Beast looking down on my Holiday of best intentions and inner reflections than…Oh say…a great White European Puritan who murdered the indigenous population for taking up too much of his new space and being Heretics!! All the while under the guise of escaping his own country to be free to worship who he wanted. Yes, I think I will take the spirit of the animal I am happy to eat on my Holiday. Anyway....Oh Great Turkey Beast in the sky, I’m thankful for so many things and I shall name a few.....I’m thankful for being alive, in fact, I’m thankful that despite my efforts over the years I’m still healthy-ish.  I’m thankful for my Children and my sweet Mama Frankenstein and all of my Family whom I love very much. OK…doing good so far.  I’m also mostly thankful for that anxiety-ridden rodent Dog who lives in my home and is cute sometimes, but a lot of times just irritates us and makes us think of good reasons to eat him.  Better hope they’re not out of Turkey when we get to the store, Dog!  I’m also thankful for Darth Vader, Ray guns, chest hair, fuzzy bunnies,  Art supplies, Steak, the making of the movie Beastmaster and good Friends of which I am blessed to have a few of.  I'm thankful for the fact that the sun comes up every day and hasn't gone supernova yet and burned us all to a bacony crisp!  For the safe return of our Men and Women who went away to war almost a year ago and will be arriving soon with fists full of Army cash to get tattooed up for the Christmas season!  And for simple things like Hot dogs with extra mustard, heat when it's cold and a roof over our heads, and the fact that I don't live in a Maximum security prison!  I bet Thanksgiving is not tasty in prison. What I'm trying to say is there’s a lot to be thankful for Folks. Even though the economy might be beating a hole in your door and you may have bill collectors on your speed dial, there are some very real things to be thankful for.  I love gravy, Turkey, stuffing, and I might even love YOU too!  Bottom line....Thanksgiving is coming and aside from whether or not some pilgrims sat down with some natives to share corn-on-the-cob before imminent cultural decimation, we all have something to be thankful for.  Find it!!  And may your Thursday be warm and include a long nap and a couple of laughs. Happy Thanksgiving my friends! 
On that note, I included some old work today.  The Tribal work is on my man Shaun; a fine man, good Father and always a pleasure to work on. Thanks for everything Shaun, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family buddy!  The other pieces are some paintings I’ve done in the last couple of years. And of course a picture of me with Captain Kirk! Cause.......I might some Star Trek on Thanksgiving, Ah ha!  Jim DuVal and Jim Kirk saving the Galaxy from the evils of the giant rabid Pilgrim Deities! Yes!!! 
Have a great Holiday friends, and stay tuned for my next post on new paintings and the lasting effects of gravy over-dose!
Bye now
Love Jim

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On Heather, and the importance of Magic!

I could spend forever on the subject of being a father. My daughter Evette is nine; a creative wide-eyed little girl with a huge heart and smarts that rival Cleopatra herself, which can sometimes get her into trouble. I read to her every night. Tonight we're nearing the end of "The Graveyard book" by Neil Gaimen; a fantastic read filled with mystery & magic. I've long believed it a most important job of a parent, aside from the lessons of being a good person and student of the world, to instill children with a sense of magic. The magic of Christmas or the shadowy things that lie just out of our reach. The root of such things is also the root of hope, some glimmer of light and a little piece of the mystery of the cosmos that in our darkest times helps us through. To believe and to keep some part of childhood within us when the coldness of the world rains down. I'm also a Step-Dad to Nikita's 2 boys Drexel & Siris. Drex will no doubt grow up to find the cure for Cancer or send new Robots to the moon, and Si is a young leader of men for sure...possibly a street gang. These three are tight and all carry that great mystery which echos daily in their joys and triumphs great or small. I'm truly blessed. I couldn't count how many days may seem rough and wearing on the soul that one of these kids doesn't light me back up and remind me that the world is indeed full of mystery and good.  It's alive and afoot as one old friend of mine used to say. (rest his soul)  Where would we who create for a living be without it? Artists are the dreamers and myth-makers.  Where would we be without our dreamers? Our Homers, our Burtons, our Brothers Grimm? And on that note I say to you friends keep your magic close to you and don't lose it.
   It's funny actually that I started this about the Graveyard book we're reading. My first client tomorrow is long-time friend, Heather Carstairs.  Heather runs a local bookstore down-town and is the person who suggested the book to us. We've been working on a full back-piece on Heather for some time now; a Japanese Koi fish transcending into a Dragon. It's an old Japanese myth that this is where Dragons come from. A Koi lives a thousand years and once it finally crests this magical waterfall at what is called the Dragon gates, it turns into this magical creature. So there you have it again friends...Magic!

I've had the last couple days off hiding in the subterranean art den as much as possible. Tomorrow it's back to the old flesh factory; perforating the people as I like to say.  I'm so thankful after all these years that an impending work week is still something I look forward to with excitement & enthusiasm. I'll keep you posted on what this week brings. I started this web-site project a week ago today and marvel every day at how many people have taken the time to read what I'm up to and share positive feed back. Now to settle in with a brush, some ink and my dear Morticia for this final evening of my weekend.  So once more  let me just say....  Magic, magic, magic!!!!

And below, still in progress, Heather!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Torture of Max and a Subterranean Paint day !

OK…so it's a bit grey & gloomy in the VT today, but that’s just fine with this Space Cowpoke. I'm no fan of the colder months but I've always tried to use this time to my advantage. The impending Hoth-climate frigid season throws me into creative production overdrive!  If you’re not out snow-boarding or braving the cold it’s good to at least stay active indoors lest Ye fall prey to cabin fever somewhere round March. In fact every Spring time we gauge our love by the fact that we haven't gone all Jack Nicholson and chopped each other up into tiny bits with an axe yet.  I have an Engineer's drawing table at the foot of my bed, a drafting table down the hall in the office, and yet another out in the Voodoo Room Studio.  This morning I've managed to creep out of my Imperial Chinese restaurant/Conan sleeping chamber (I guess you’d call it your bedroom)...scraped the sleep-moss from my eyeballs and I'm writing to you while brewing a little Irish Breakfast tea and getting ready to settle in to start a new paint series!  Throughout the warmer months I practically live in the Voodoo Room; a 2-story garage converted over the last 2yrs into an art studio that I share with Miss Frankenstein-also an Artist. We insulated it, installed a heater, and brought out art tables, easels and of course...a Tiki bar & TV cuz good art can become great when fed a steady diet of horror, music and fancy cocktails. Like Muggles overlooking the Leaky Couldron what would appear to the normal passerby as an ordinary garage conceals a big-Kid Art playground/Halloween dance-party.  HIS side wall-to-wall black/HERs wall-wall pink w/a huge Day of the Dead mural by Mr.Jason Tooth & Pete Chille. The entire space filled from top to bottom with Halloween decor complete with His/Her nerdy toy collections. As the heat is limited we're only able to work out there from early spring to around now.  My oils on canvas are usually relegated to that time of year. Once the gloomy frost comes a slithering across the land we run for the hills (hibernate in our Bedroom) and paint away on tables with watercolors/inks and such. Most of my Tattoo flash is completed at this time. Thus cold season work promotes the day job and warm season's work is for art shows and commissions. Today is a Subterranean Art day with first on the agenda-New business card design. I'll post pictures later as the first painting or two gets finished.

On another note, yesterday was a fine Sunday at Yankee Tattoo. I had the pleasure of torturing the Hell out of this poor Bastard named Max. His first Tattoo and over his guts no less!! This is a relatively insane thing to do! The stomach is at the top of the list of bad places to get your third tattoo let alone your first. Ole Max went for it and sat unaffected as if I was drawing with a ball point pen…in fact I honestly thought Boyo was napping at one point. Max travelled all the way from NH to visit a friend so he had to get the entire piece done in one shot. We did a huge Sycamore tree with the words "Work in progress" underneath. The story goes that his Great-Grandma and her Sis came over from northern Italy during the Great Depression and worked in a pasta factory in CT. They worked hard to bring the rest of their family to the US on their wages. She's 96 now and still very self-sufficient. Anyway her husband planted a Sycamore on the family land ages ago and it's a symbol to Max relating to life and how we're all works in progress. I can respect it! His fortitude was impressive yesterday and I applaud him for it. Thanks Max, hope you enjoy the piece and the bonus of having a good story to tell, especially the part where I colored in your belly button…oooohhh! 
  OK folks, off to paint pictures and watch some classic Flash Gordon! You know...the 80s version complete with Queen Soundtrack!!! Yes! So as Vultan would loudly declare..."Fly off my Hawkmen and have a fine gloomy day!"  And underneath this passage, for your consideration:  A few paintings of mine along with of course Max and his huge Tree!
These three pieces were included in the Halloween show at the Red Square I did with Justin Atherton!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sin and the Tiny Bad Ass

Hey everyone! Saturday was a fun day at the office.  I was knee-deep in a short-sleeve lotus, water, Asian motif. Much fun.  Joined by "Doc Block" and "The Tiny Bad Ass"; a Mother-Daughter duo.  An enjoyable aspect of the job is the luxury of constant observation of human relationships. These two were very sweet and quite obviously a tight pair. It's nice to see a child-parent relationship progress beyond the kid years to what seems to me to be more of a friendship. They were a bunch of fun and I really had a good time with the work.  I'm thankful that many of my days seldom feel like actual work. Say howdy to the people Tiny Bad Ass!!!!  Make no mistake, she's little but ferocious like a Lion.  She wasn't even phased by four straight hours of throttling.  Well done, and thank you!!

The evening was quite different all together.  I found myself at the Higher Ground club in South Burlington.  Niki Frankenstein was involved in the yearly romp of the children of the post-apocalyptic neo-tribalite arthouse fetish fashion show dance-party known as the "Spectacle of Sin". The building was flooded with whirling Goth sex nerds, which quite contrasted the low-key normal folks that were there to see the Pink Floyd cover band in the next room. Good times. Even though I feel like some of the dirty droning Industrial/House gloom & doom rock was reaching frequencies that could very well be responsible for killing off the honey bee population, it was still a fantastic ordeal!!  I'd like to point you in the direction of the Wings of Sin Etsy site. I put a link in the Links list on the side here.    Miss Melaney Pettinni makes some hot clothes-Go and buy some!  Then go home, get dressed up and pretend your man is Mad Max and your bedroom is the Thunderdome!!   Mix it up people!!!  Well played last night girls. I was impressed by all of your hard work and not to mention you made a pretty pack of She-Wolves.  Also don't miss Amadis! Theses guys are a gnarly metal band with some great fashion brains and a sound that's as crunchy as your Saturday morning cereal before it's ruined with milk.  By the end of the night I was happy to crawl into bed and pass out while watching the Stallone movie Cobra!  I miss the pre-described sarcastic rhetoric of the 80's action film...quotes like "I'll do it man, I'll blow up this grocery store" followed by Marion Cobretti's reply, "Go ahead, I don't shop here."  Solid Gold people.  Good day! Good day! More later my friends, and thank you for paying attention to my rants. It's still super fun writing to you all.

Have a fine day